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Industry Reactions to Tom Wheeler’s Nomination to Be FCC Chairman: CCIA, NCTA, CTIA, NTCA, CEA and MPAA

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WASHINGTON, May 1, 2013 – The following are reactions from President Barack Obama’s Announcement that Tom Wheeler would be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from several of the leading major telecommunications, media and technology industry trade groups.

Ed Black, President and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association: 

“President Obama has nominated the right leader for the right job at the right time.

“I have known and respected Tom Wheeler for many years, and believe his exceptional understanding of much of the industry, combined with his demonstrated commitment to protecting the public interest, makes him uniquely qualified to lead this important agency facing many complicated and critical decisions.

“Tom’s knowledge of the telecom, cable and Internet industries and his experience representing the wireless and cable industries when they were the newest disruptive innovators makes him an excellent choice. A frequent impediment to US innovation is that incumbents too often protect their legacy business models rather than allowing the market to evolve in ways that help consumers. Wheeler’s career backing start ups and promoting disruptive innovators in the wireless and cable industries is an important perspective to have in a Chairman.

“The choice of Wheeler reinforces our belief that President Obama understands the Internet’s role as both a communications tool and as a key for growing the digital economy. We need an FCC Chairman to chart the right course that will boost Internet openness, promote robust competition, innovation and affordable high speed Internet access.”

Michael Powell, President and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association:

“We congratulate Tom Wheeler on his nomination as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. With his significant experience in both the private and public sector, Tom is an exceptional choice to lead the Commission during a time when the telecommunications marketplace is experiencing significant innovation and incredible change. We welcome the pending appointment of Mignon Clyburn as interim chairman as she is a distinguished and able public servant. We will continue working closely with the entire Commission as they tackle important issues facing America’s dynamic media, technology and telecommunications landscape.”

Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA – The Wireless Association:

“On behalf of the wireless industry, we congratulate Tom on today’s announcement. Tom has a deep understanding of communications issues, a passion for hard work and creative thinking, a diverse background that spans the realm of the Internet world and a keen understanding of how mobile wireless broadband can drive our economy and innovation. His leadership of the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council, combined with his private sector experience means he will hit the ground running. We look forward to working with Tom, once he completes the Senate confirmation process, on the breadth of spectrum and other wireless telecom matters which are pending at the Commission and critical to the maintenance of our position as global leader in mobile communications.”

Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of the NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association:

“NTCA congratulates Mr. Wheeler upon his nomination to serve as the next chairman of the FCC. Small rural carriers have worked diligently to deliver on the President’s vision of universal broadband access, and we know that Mr. Wheeler appreciates the need for a stable, well-defined regulatory climate to facilitate investment in and upgrade of broadband-capable, IP-enabled networks. This is particularly important in the hard-to-serve areas in which NTCA members operate, and we look forward to working with Mr. Wheeler to fulfill the promise of high-quality, affordable and sustainable broadband access for all Americans.”

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association:

“President Obama has made an excellent choice in nominating Tom Wheeler. As the former president of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and the former CEO of CTIA – The Wireless Association, he understands the impact of government actions on innovation and competitiveness.

“As the chairman of the U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on International Communications Policy and Information Policy, Wheeler helped develop the unprecedented unified position of the U.S. government, Congress and industry opposing the International Telecommunication Union’s effort to encourage countries to wall off their citizens’ Internet access. Wheeler also helped coordinate the U.S. response to the Haiti disaster which quickly restored basic telecommunications service to Haiti and put into place a strategy for future responses to areas hit by a telecommunications breakdown.

“The FCC plays a vital role in the lives of all Americans. CEA and its 2,000 technology industry member companies look forward to working with Wheelerand his colleagues to help the FCC advance technology innovation through spectrum reallocation and other groundbreaking issues. Wheeler is experienced, qualified and certain to make a difference as FCC chairman.”

Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America:

“I’d like to congratulate Tom Wheeler on his nomination today by President Obama to be FCC Chairman. Tom has demonstrated strong leadership skills at a time of major change in the telecommunications, cable, and wireless industries.  I look forward to working with Tom, an entrepreneur and experienced policy expert,  to ensure the smooth delivery of American content over a variety of devices and networks, both here and abroad.”font

FCC

FCC Commissioner Supports Rural Telco Efforts to Implement ‘Rip and Replace’

In remarks at the Rural Wireless Association event on Wednesday, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks reaffirmed the FCC’s goals.

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Photo of Carri Bennet, general counsel of the Rural Wireless Association, leading a discussion at the summit on Wednesday by Drew Clark

PARK CITY, Utah, June 30, 2022 – Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks acknowledged the agency’s goal of obtaining secure broadband networks at an event of the Rural Wireless Association on Wednesday.

“We must ensure that our broadband networks are secure,” Starks said in keynote address at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here, delivered via Zoom. “This is evident in the constant barrage of attacks of American networks from hostile state and non-state actors.”

Starks continued, “insecure networks, by definition, can’t provide the stable, reliable, always on communications we need. Especially during emergencies… Broadband must be secure for the full benefits of broadband to be achieved.”

The issue of ridding American telecommunications networks of equipment manufactured in China was a constant theme during the conference.

In addition to Starks’ presentation, several sessions addressed the dilemma faced by telecommunications carriers, particular rural ones, that had in the past invested heavily in lower-cost equipment from Huawei, a leading Chinese manufacturer.

As the political winds have changed on the topic over the past three years, Congress has allocated funds for a “rip and replace” program. The FCC is expected to announce the providers that will receive nearly $2 billion as part of the program by July 15.

But some fear that number could be more than $4 billion short of needed funds.

“The funds available will cover only a very small portion” of the costs to replace Huawei with non-Chinese manufacturers, said Carri Bennet, general counsel of the Rural Wireless Association.

Potential new requirements imposed on telecom providers

The commission recently sought comment on whether it should require carriers that receive high-cost support to have include baseline cyber security and supply chain risk management plans.

If these plans are included in requirements, Starks said that American communication networks would be protected from bad actors. Moreover, they are consistent with requirements already included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Starks thanked the RWA for its activity and advocacy in the “rip and replace” proceedings, officially dubbed the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Reimbursement Program.

“The threat is real,” called Starks. “Companies that are deemed by the federal government to be a threat to the United States and its people can not have free reign in data centers featuring some of the most sensitive data of Americans.”

This comes only days after Commissioner Brendan Carr called for Apple and Google to remove Beijing-based popular video-sharing application, TikTok, from their app stores in response to the apps’ obligation to comply with the Peoples Republic of China’s surveillance demands.

Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.

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FCC

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks Calls for Environmental Sustainability at Summit

Environmental sustainability in telecom has been a key talking point for Starks.

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Photo of FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks

June 27, 2022 – Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Geoffrey Starks raised on Monday the importance of sustainability in telecommunications as a speaker at the 2022 Broadband for All Summit in Stockholm, Sweden.

An important responsibility for agencies in the industry is building infrastructure that is environmentally sustainable, Starks said, suggesting four avenues to improve sustainability.

First, “we must continue to find ways to do more while using less, and that begins with the way we use spectrum,” he said. We need to “squeeze” the most out of the finite spectrum while simultaneously building networks that draw less power.

Second, “we need to realize our full potential to help other sectors consume less, too.”

We are entering an era where we can “collect, communicate, and analyze massive quantities of data to improve decision-making in real-time. Everything from traffic flow to energy transmission to orders of operation on the factory floor can benefit from data-driven efficiencies that were previously impossible,” he said.

Third, “industry-led initiatives must continue to play a significant role, from progressing towards reducing or eliminating the carbon emissions associated with their operations, to increasing renewable energy and minimizing electronic waste.”

Some manufacturers, according to Starks, have gone beyond carbon neutrality and are aiming for net-zero operations.

Fourth, “we must collectively do our part to mitigate climate change’s harmful effects at the network level”. With harsher weather patterns than previous generation, we should invest in networks that will keep communities connected during storms, floods, wildfires, and other disasters.

Starks, who has pitched environmental sustainability in telecommunications on a multiple occasions, advocated for players in the industry to be “as aggressive as possible with our climate commitments, and we should be as comprehensive as possible in our effort to comply with them.” This should include eliminating waste during the production phase, he said.

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FCC

FCC to Gather Information on Offshore Spectrum, Accurate 911 Call Routing

The FCC is examining the need and use cases for allocating spectrum for offshore use.

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Photo of Nathan Simington

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission voted in an open meeting Wednesday to examine technology that can improve wireless 911 call routing, propose a fine for interrupting U.S. forest service radio communications, and to seek comment on offshore spectrum needs and uses.

The FCC voted to begin gathering information through public comment on the “possible current and future needs, uses, and impacts of offshore wireless spectrum use,” including for cruise ships, oceanography and wind turbine projects. Other options, like satellite-based systems, are available to provide service.

The construction and operation of windfarms in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and communication services between at-sea vessels require offshore spectrum. The notice of inquiry asks what other cases exist that require offshore spectrum access that are not being provided for under existing models.

“We seek more broadly to understand the extent of the demand to use offshore spectrum and more generally where that demand is concentrated,” stated the inquiry.

“It is important that the FCC stay ahead of the curve in its consideration of upcoming commercial spectrum needs and this item does just that,” said commissioner Nathan Simington.

911 call routing

The FCC launched an examination into technology that could result in faster response times by more precisely routing wireless 911 calls to the correct call center.

Some wireless emergency calls are made near city or county borders where the closest call center is in the neighboring jurisdiction, resulting in lost time as calls are rerouted to the correct call center.

Since 2018, when the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on feasibility of routing 911 calls based on location of the caller versus location of the cellular tower, there have been many advancements in location-based routing technology. The FCC issued a Public Notice Wednesday seeking updated information on these technologies and the feasibility of adopting them into public use.

Last month, AT&T announced a new technology that would allow dispatchers to get a more accurate location of distressed calls by using the phone’s GPS.

Proposed fine for violating radio interference rules

The FCC also proposed a $34,000 fine Wednesday against Jason Frawley who, in 2021, allegedly interfered with radio communications that were guiding firefighting during the 1000-acre wildfire near Elk River, Idaho.

Frawley reportedly admitted to a Forest Service supervisor that he broadcasted on government frequencies in direct defiance to the Communications Act which prohibits any interference with authorized radio communications.

Neither the allegations nor the proposed sanctions are final FCC actions, said the press release.

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